I have a confession to make when I first heard about self-care I thought it was one of those fads, something like pampering yourself silly at a fancy spa. I couldn’t be more wrong. Self-care goes so much deeper than just physical beautification. The question “what is self-care?” is so vaguely defined at times that its importance is lost on a layman. If you don’t have a clear understanding of what self-care really is you will not realise its significance nor will have any interest in incorporating it in your life.
WHAT IS SELF CARE? HOW TO PRACTICE IT?
Self-care is engaging in any activity that is beneficial to your mental and physical health. In simple words, you have to take care of yourself for your well-being. Engage in things and activities that make you happy and relaxes your mind. My personal definition of self-care is cleansing out all negative thoughts from my system to have a lighter mind and better focus in my daily life.
Most of us are not exactly aware of how to practice self-care and when to practise it? There are also some people who aren’t convinced about self-care and prefer to save energy and resources for other things. For example the time invested in self-care could be used to do other important things like chasing an important sales target or shopping for groceries. Yes both these things are very important but regular self-care will only make you more productive and then you can concentrate better on these tasks.
Also it doesn’t take much to practice regular self-care for example how much does deep breathing for 5 minutes a day cost you? Nothing right? On the other hand if you practice deep breathing regularly you will immediately feel a sense of ease, your mind will think more rationally.
Another myth about self-care is that it’s meant only for those who suffer from depression or other mental health issues. Truth be told, most of us today have extremely busy lives where we might not be exactly depressed but we are certainly stressed so little self-care will only benefit you.
BURSTING SOME SELF-CARE MYTHS
- Everyone can and should practice self-care.
- You need to take care of yourself because you are in charge of your well-being.
- You deserve that uninterrupted me time where you can charge yourself to have a better day tomorrow.
- Self-care can help you manage your stress more effectively, make you more mindful, boost your productivity as well as positive thinking.
- Self-care is not just meant for people who suffer from depression, anxiety and other mental health issues.
- Self-care is important because if you can’t take care of yourself or if you are mentally stressed how you are going to take care of those dependent on you?
SELF-CARE IS NOT OVER-INDULGENCE
However self-care is not to be confused with over-indulgence, which is never a good thing for our mental or physical health. Like having junk food everyday or impulsive spending habits. These may seem like self-care but are actually detrimental to your lifestyle. An occasional splurge is not a bad thing after all we all work hard and deserve to feel good but if your spend-thrift habit is eating into your savings then it is not self-care, it is a serious case of bad habit and over-indulgence.
WHAT ARE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SELF-CARE?
If you like I thought self care is just having a fun day at spa then you will be pleasantly surprised there are different types of self-care you can practice. These practices are meant to make us more mindful, more aware of the present and ultimately make us more happier and productive individuals. Here are some common types of self-care techniques.
Our emotional or mental health has direct impact on our physical well-being. Thankfully today the importance of mental health is being realised and mental health issues are as important as any physical ailment.
Negative emotions like jealousy, stress, anger, sadness etc leave a stronger imprint on our minds than positive ones. These affect us more. Also positive emotions are easier to express than negative ones. A lot of us don’t like dealing with negative emotions, we hide it, evade it, sometimes we cannot fully comprehend it or accept it.
Therefore deal with your negative emotions by accepting that yes you are experiencing some sort of negativity and it’s perfectly normal to feel like this.
Try these tips
- Let go off toxic relationships. Your happiness matters and any person who gives you stress is not worth being in your life.
- Don’t ignore your mental health issues. If you think you need professional help then you must seek it.
- If you feel mentally tired and stressed out then take the time to compose yourself.
- Start writing a journal writing how you feel, write until you feel you have penned down every single emotion in that blank page. Your mind will feel much lighter.
- Express your emotions, like if you need to cry then cry out.
- Talk to people you trust. Have a good support group which can be your emotional anchor.
- Dry to dwell on happy memories like listening to old songs, looking at old photo albums etc.
- Practice breathing exercises to have a better grip on your emotions. Try some deep breathing during the busy mid-morning hours and before bedtime.
Spiritual self care is all about attracting positive energy in your life by connecting with a higher power. I feel this power could be anything, a faith like the law of universe, your religious beliefs or meditation. It should be somthing which gives your life a deeper meaning, a purpose and makes you realise your self-worth. Spiritual self care is very effective in increasing mindfulness and boosting your mental faculties.
Take note of these tips:
- Read up on meditation techniques and try to include some amount of meditation in your daily lives
- Be more alert, aware and live in the present.
- Practice mindfulness by being aware of all the five senses of smell, touch, taste, sight and sound. This can be done in the following ways like:
- Walking bare-footed on grass in the early morning or cuddling your pet.
- Observing nature like the sunrise, birds, trees, leaves, flowers etc.
- Inhaling deeply the scent of a flower or aroma of food.
- Taking a moment to savour the food you are eating.
- Listening to the sound of your own breath.
- Practising gratitude for this amazing life and fact that you are living this moment.
As they say a fit body harbours a fit mind so physical self-care is indulging in any activity that contributes to your physical well-being. You owe it to yourself to live a healthy life by taking care of your body and by making healthy life choices. These are some tips.
- Incorporate some sort of exercise routine in your life. You hate the gym (great me too) so try brisk walking, dancing, cycling, yoga or any activity that revitalises your body.
- Eat healthy food. A fit body is 30% exercise and 70% diet therefore take care proper care of your diet.
- Don’t ignore hunger pangs while working.
- Get regular health check-ups.
- Get your daily dose of adequate rest and sleep. If you need a power nap in the afternoon and have the luxury of taking it then by all means you should take it.
- Don’t push your body to work when you are unwell.
- If you need your ‘me time’ and don’t feel like attending social obligations then take that time guilt-free.
Personal Maintenance and Productivity
Physical self-care extends to personal maintenance also, this means doing things that instantly lifts your mood you and shifts a huge load of stress from your shoulders. Every now and then you deserve to indulge yourself in these activities.
- Take short vacations
- Pick up a hobby or an activity you like painting, music, reading, dancing, baking, the list is endless.
- Art therapy, pet therapy, music therapy are also very effective to reduce stress, indulge in these activities.
- Groom, dress up for and feel good about yourself.
- Take a warm bath before bedtime and feel all the tension reducing. Use bathing salts and essential oils.
- And yes take that spa day because occasional pampering is not a bad thing.
Another aspect of physical self-care is aimed to increase your productivity to make you more more organised so that life in general becomes much easier.
- Develop a saving habit. Try to save some every month by making financial commitments to yourself.
- No one likes bills or taxes and but we have to pay these and pending bills and taxes are like those nagging headache. So pay these on time.
- Listen to self-development podcasts. (Tim Ferris anyone?)
We humans are social beings we need other humans to survive. Social self-care is important to nurture your relationship. It doesn’t matter if you are an introvert or you don’t have a large social circle but whatever relationships you form try to care for it. You may have a small circle of family and friends and can be really happy if you are fully invested in those people. Reach out to people who genuinely care for you.
Try these tips:
- Spend time with your loved ones.
- Plan something like family movie night or girls night out or a trip together.
- Keep channels of communication open even if that person is away from you. You never know an occasional phone call or message can lift up the spirit of the other person.
So there you go lovely people these are some of the ways to practice self-care in your life. Do take time to nurture yourself because it is essential for your mental peace, self-esteem and most importantly your happiness. If you benefit from this post I would be really happy because is extremely personal to me. Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.